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The Princess Bride by William Goldman
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The Princess Bride (original 1973; edition 1984)

by William Goldman

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14,668336135 (4.28)1 / 521
Member:LorenIpsum
Title:The Princess Bride
Authors:William Goldman
Info:Del Rey (1984), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

Work details

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973)

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1970s (10)
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English (329)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (334)
Showing 1-5 of 329 (next | show all)
know that the Princess Bride occupies a tremendous space in internet fandoms after the 1980s film, but I really came to this book because I'm a Goldman fan. I have a somewhat embarrassing penchant for Westerns/cowboy stories and I loved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid so damned much (Goldman wrote the screenplay for that).

The Princess Bride is a novel for children, or rather, young adults, but it is smart enough, and witty enough, to be enjoyed by cranky old men like me, as well. Goldman's device is clever: he begins narration, claiming to be abridging a massive historical volume original written by (a fictional author) S Morgerstern. It took me a while to pick up on this: I had mentally made a note to look for the original Morgenstern version before I realised that Goldman had made him up. It's smart, because it allows Goldman to insert himself into the narrative, mocking and teasing, his shiny wit teasing you.

TPB is also a gripping adventure story. I read the entire thing on a flight, to the consternation of the old lady sitting next to me. I jumped each time there was an exciting bit, causing her to jump, too. I hope her blood pressure is okay. The book begins with the most beautiful woman in the world, Buttercup, who lives on a farm in the country of Florin. She falls in love with the stable boy/farm hand Westley, after a childhood of being abusive and rude to him. He, meanwhile, loves her back. Unfortunately, Westley is lost at sea, and Buttercup is 'discovered' by royalty and set to marry the Prince of Florin (hence, the 'princess bride'). Meanwhile, a trio of outlaws, evil Vizzini, the master swordsman Inigo Montoya, and the massive, rhyme-obssessed wrester Fezzik, are on a mission to abduct Buttercup. Inigo wants revenge against a six-fingered man who killed his father. Fezzik wants to rhyme stuff. Vizzini is up to no good. And the Dread Pirate Roberts, who sank Westley's ship, is lurking around. Really, every element of a gripping adventure is here.

I loved this about The Princess Bride: although it is for children, it's not really a very childish story. People die, people get killed and tortured, the end is ambiguous enough to be not classified as happy. As Goldman keep saying, "“Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death, that's all.” This is a story that is meant to hurt, a little, and that's a good thing. What I did not like about this book was Buttercup. She's the only female significant character, and she is unlikeable, vacant, not particularly plucky or loyal or even decent. I couldn't forgive her early treatment of Westley, no matter how much she claimed to love him later. I know there's people who claim that this story has a feminist twist. I consider myself a feminist. But I don't think that Buttercup calling Westley "Farm Boy" for years without bothering to find out his name is particularly human, forget feminist. Buttercup, if I may use language appropriate for a young adult book, is a jerk.

But The Princess Bride is fun, and eminently witty. Everyone's heard "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." but Goldman fills the book with these smart little asides, like "“True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.” and "“Cynics are simply thwarted romantics.” and “Fool!" cried the hunchback. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.” . I'd say this is well worth a read, even if YA Lit is not your thing (it certainly isn't mine) for Goldman. Damn that Buttercup, though.
  reva8 | Apr 20, 2015 |
What I liked of the book was only because of the movie. If I had never seen the movie, this would be one of the stupidest books around. As it stands, the places where the book was different from the movie were always to the detriment of the book. Also, Rob Reiner is an awful narrator and a bumbling idiot. I am sincerely happy that this book is over now. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
I loved this as a child, and one of things I love best, then and now, is the conceit of all the layers, Goldman's claim that Morgenstern was real, that M. wrote a socio-political satire that needed to be trimmed to the story G's father read to child Goldman....

I liked that this time I read it, as an adult, I realized that G himself was the satirist, and that one of the things he was digging at was fantasy stories with iconographic heroes and villains (note that the richer characters are the side-kicks, Fezzik and Inigo). Another was people like himself, Jewish people with aspirations to make it big in both NYC with publishers like HBJ and in Hollywood with screenplays and starlets.

After all, imagine reading just the story itself, cold. I don't think I'm the only one who would despair over what the heck the delusion that Buttercup and Westley claim is true love actually is. I mean, the way B. bossed the Farm Boy around, and the way W. didn't reveal himself to B. after killing Vizzini until it was almost too late, and the way the only thing B. has going for her is beauty, the way they bicker, the way B. did abandon W....

Don't get me wrong; I still enjoyed the 'high adventure' even though it was so implausible. But it's def. camp & satire. If you don't believe me, get a copy of the 30th anniversary edition and read the extra 'layers' (another long & fantastical intro, an intro to 'Buttercup's Baby' with a lot of backstory about Stephen King's involvement, the first section of BB, an interview with the characters, another autobiographical note, and reader's circle questions).

ETA: I just remembered that I meant to say that the gimmick of using an adult to relay a children's story must have been in fashion some time ago. Or maybe I just had a knack for finding those books. At least two others of my favorites, [b:Mister God, This Is Anna|50807|Mister God, This Is Anna|Fynn|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170371785s/50807.jpg|49605] and [b:The Little Prince|157993|The Little Prince|Antoine de Saint-Exupéry|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1233949421s/157993.jpg|2180358] do this too. They all seem to be philosophical commentaries. Do you know of any other examples?? ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I have seen the movie countless times, my son and I can repeat nearly all of the dialog by heart, but I had never gotten around to reading the source material. And it turns out that the book is delightful. Not as good as the movie but delightful. Goldman wrote the screenplay, and I think he punched up a few things to make the story even better. The actors brought so much to their roles! I missed Peter Cook as the priest in the wedding scene perhaps most keenly. ("Maywage is what bwings us togetah today.") Also, mutton, lettuce and tomato is just funnier than cough drops.

I am also listening to the audio of "As You Wish", Cary Elwes's oral history of the making of the movie (many of the major players, including William Goldman and Rob Reiner, speak on the audio.) They mentioned that Schwarzenegger was once cast to play Fezzik, and it really brought home how different this story would have been without the real Fezzik, Andre the Giant. That goes for every one of the actors. Could anyone else be Inigo Montoya? No, Mandy Patinkin is the only Inigo. Each actor made his/her character even better that it was in this really wonderful book. So yes, this charmed the hell out of me, but I will stick with the movie going forward. ( )
  Narshkite | Mar 31, 2015 |
I love this book. If you're a fan of the movie do yourself a favor and read the book! Like so very many people I saw the movie first and loved that, but there is something really awesome about reading the book (then maybe watching the movie again). ( )
  etborg | Mar 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 329 (next | show all)
The book is clearly a witty, affectionate send-up of the adventure-yarn form, which Goldman obviously loves and knows how to manipulate with enormous skill.
 

» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Goldmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
D'Achille, GinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, NormanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manomivibul, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, MarkIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.
Quotations
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!
Death cannot stop true love. It can just delay it for a while.
As you wish.
Life isn't fair. It's just fairer that death.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. So when she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts - who never leaves survivors - her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairytale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.
Haiku summary
Fractured fairy tale
"Life's not fair" is the point, but
True love never dies

(QuestingforaQuest)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345348036, Mass Market Paperback)

The Princess Bride is a true fantasy classic. William Goldman describes it as a "good parts version" of "S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure." Morgenstern's original was filled with details of Florinese history, court etiquette, and Mrs. Morgenstern's mostly complimentary views of the text. Much admired by academics, the "Classic Tale" nonetheless obscured what Mr. Goldman feels is a story that has everything: "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

Goldman frames the fairy tale with an "autobiographical" story: his father, who came from Florin, abridged the book as he read it to his son. Now, Goldman is publishing an abridged version, interspersed with comments on the parts he cut out.

Is The Princess Bride a critique of classics like Ivanhoe and The Three Musketeers, that smother a ripping yarn under elaborate prose? A wry look at the differences between fairy tales and real life? Simply a funny, frenetic adventure? No matter how you read it, you'll put it on your "keeper" shelf. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:46 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

A writers views on life and art are revealed in his effort to edit the children's classic that shaped his literary ambitions.

(summary from another edition)

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